Ramah Leon Combs -- #07917-032

31 Years -- Prescription Drug Conspiracy

Ramah Leon Combs, prisoner of the drug war
As the tenth of thirteen children of a poor miner and a former elementary education teacher, growing up in Eastern Kentucky wasn't easy. My parents supplemented their meager income by tending a small farm, raising animals and hunting wildlife. There were no allowances for any sort of luxury. My father was an alcoholic and psychologists today would most likely categorize my mother as having been co-dependent and the family as dysfunctional. Yet we were taught right from wrong at an early age. Education was valued and most of us earned a high school education and many of us went on to college some even earning post-graduate degrees.

Guns were always in our home. We had guns which had been handed down through the family for generations and my dad bought and traded guns. I enjoyed hunting, target practice, and collecting guns as a hobby all my life. Never did I imagine that this hobby would result in the loss of my freedom, my family, and everything I had acquired in my 43 years of life.

In June of 2000, I was involved in a motorcycle accident which resulted in fractures to my spine and ribs and a punctured lung. I spent two weeks in the hospital where pain medications were administered daily and I was discharged with a prescription of Oxycontin 40 mg. Oxycontin continued to be prescribed for pain until after I was arrested and indicted on drug and gun charges.

One January 22, 2001 I was arrested and later indicted on federal charges during the infamous Oxyfest 2001. Count 1 was for an alleged offense of November 14, 2000 "did knowingly and intentionally possess with the intent to distribute and did distribute a measurable quantity of Oxycontin, a Schedule II controlled substance". Count 2 was an alleged offence of January, 22, 2001 "did knowingly and intentionally possess with the intent to distribute a measurable quantity of Oxycontin and Dilaudid, Schedule II controlled substances." 'Count 3 was an alleged offense of January 22, 2001 "during and in relation to a drug trafficking crime for which he may be prosecuted in a Court of the United States did possess a .22 caliber Phoenix pistol." Count 4, likewise an alleged offense of January 22,2001 "in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime for which he may be prosecuted in a Court of the United States did unlawfully possess firearms." Count 5 also an alleged offense of January 22, 2001 "did knowingly possess stolen firearms.... which had been shipped in interstate commerce."

All of this resulted from a nephew of two of Post 13 Kentucky State Police being brought in for questioning regarding his involvement in the theft and burglary of his father's and uncle's homes -- he had admitted he had stolen guns from them and had either pawned the guns or had traded the guns to various people for Oxycontin. The nephew was never arrested.

The United States Attorney offered a plea bargain -- 7 years in a federal corrections institute and rat on any one else I would "be willing to name". I declined the offer and requested my right to trial. Not being able to afford an attorney, a public defender was appointed. I have come to the conclusion that the appointed representatives are more apt1y referred to as "public pretenders". My "public pretender" readily admitted to being a golf partner to both the United States Attorney and the federal judge in my case. When he had no idea what a 924(c) was, instead of looking it up in a law reference book, he picked up the phone and called the prosecuting attorney, his golfing buddy. I had never been in any legal trouble before and knew little about how our Judicial System is actually run; I was still relying on my civics lessons from school, which I was soon to learn are a farce, to put it mildly.

My trial was not held in Eastern Kentucky among my peers, it was moved to Frankfort, the capitol of Kentucky, and the prosecutor and judge belittled the people of Eastern Kentucky throughout the trial, leaving the city slicker jurors with the impression that everyone from Eastern Kentucky were stupid idiots who lived in "hollers" and did nothing but sell or abuse drugs! The jury returned a guilty verdict for Counts 1-4 and a Not Guilty verdict for Count 5. Without any priors, I was sentenced to 31.3 years in a Federal Prison.

After my sister became involved in researching my case and wrote several letters to the Public Pretender about his obvious lack of professional representation, I filed a formal complaint with the Kentucky Bar Association, which accomplished absolutely nothing, he requested to be dismissed from my appeal process. A law firm from Columbus, Ohio was appointed. They did a relatively decent job at attacking my conviction, and the United States Attorney handling the appeal process eventually conceded error for Count 3 and Count 4. Count 3 was an insufficient indictment as it failed to state an offense and Count 4 had been "constructively amended". Throughout the trial, the nephew of the Kentucky State Police repeatedly admitted to trading guns for drugs to various people, yet I was the only one they sought to arrest, indict, and try. The federal judge stated the law correctly, "a man who trades a gun for drugs is in violation of 924(c)." But there was no evidence presented during the trial to convict me of having traded a gun for drugs! Yet, I was sentenced to 30 years for this crime, which the nephew of two of Kentucky's finest admitted he committed. The United States Attorney even offered a 7 year "Plea Bargain" during my appeal process which I again turned down.

When I insisted that the appeal not just attack my conviction but also attack the method of how I was convicted (i.e. corruption by police, attorneys and even the judge), the newly appointed attorneys asked to be dismissed and were allowed to withdraw from the appeal. When I requested new representation, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered me to write my own pro se brief, and that new appointment of representation would rest on whether or not the issues I wanted addressed had merit. Once my pro se brief was filed, the United States Attorney wrote a supplemental brief in response to my pro se brief which, to me, would suggest my issues had merit. Then he requested leave to write a "substitute brief' and was granted same. He wrote his "substitute brief' and I was granted 14 days to respond. Then he requested his "supplemental brief' be stricken and was granted that request. As of today I still am without legal counsel despite the protection of the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution. Now I wait while the Sixth Circuit Court makes its decisions.

Shortly after becoming incarcerated, my wife filed for divorce. In January, 2003 she was granted a divorce, full custody of my two daughters, all real and personal property except for my private possessions. Everything meaningful to me has been stripped except my stubborn refusal to give in to our corrupt government.

To me the War on Drugs is like shadow boxing. As long as there is light there will be shadows -- as long as there are human beings, there will be consumption of drugs of some sort; be it alcohol, marijuana, tobacco, cocaine, heroine, or some man-made drug. The government seems to want to hide behind children in this ill advised War on Drugs, but they are merely playing on naive individuals' sympathy for support when doing so. If they really are concerned about the children, why don't they use some of the billions and billions of dollars wasted (not to mention the human lives) in this terrible Drug War to improve education, health services, and social services. That would enable children to become better educated, obtain improved quality of life, and have a greater sense of self so that they would no longer need to escape by using drugs.

While I wait, I put my pain on paper in the form of poetry.

Respectfully submitted,

Ramah Leon Combs